The Major League Soccer Players Association released salary information Thursday for everyone in the league for the first time since 2019. When it comes to Real Salt Lake, it sits in the bottom third in terms of spending, per an analysis by The Athletic.
But RSL is spending slightly more money than it did in 2020, when the MLSPA did not release salary figures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The union, however, released last year’s figures Thursday as well.
RSL so far in 2021 is spending upwards of $10.5 million in total compensation, which ranks 18th among 27 MLS teams. Last year, the club spent close $10.1 million.
A second salary release should come this fall to account for roster changes in the summer transfer window.
Salary figures released by the MLSPA include base compensation and any bonuses guaranteed to a player throughout the life of a contract, including option years. The bonuses are averaged out in the calculation.
The total compensation also includes marketing bonuses and agent fees averaged out over the life of a contract, and does not include performance bonuses. Thus, total salaries are somewhat unrepresentative of a team’s yearly spend on any given player.
Here are some takeaways from RSL’s salaries:
Low price, high reward
Rubio Rubin and Anderson Julio, the two newcomers on the team, are making nearly $640,000 combined. That seems like quite a value for how they’ve performed in 2021.
So far this season, those two players have accounted for almost every one of RSL’s goals. Rubin has scored three goals and offered two assists. Those assists are on Julio’s two goals.
From Rubin’s bicycle kick goal to Julio’s speed, both players have provided a much-needed attacking spark to RSL.
It remains to be seen if they can keep pace with their current production. But early returns have the RSL front office looking like geniuses for bringing them in at their respective price points.
RSL VS. NASHVILLE SC
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When • Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
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Million dollar men
RSL has three players making more than $1 million in total compensation. Those players are Albert Rusnák, Damir Kreilach and Everton Luiz. Rusnák and Kreilach are designated players and also captains of the team.
Rusnák is the highest earner on the team at more than $2.35 million. That figure is up from 2020, when the Slovakian attacking midfielder made $2.05 million.
Kreilach and Luiz make nearly the same figure. Kreilach is at $1.35 million, while Luiz is at $1.26 million.
Those three players are some of the most impactful on RSL. Kreilach has a goal in 2021, and Luiz has cemented himself as one of the team’s elite defenders.
Rusnák has high expectations in the last year of his contract, but statistically has not performed well. However, coach Freddy Juarez said recently that he likes what he has seen from Rusnák.
Costly bench players
Jeizon Ramirez accounts for slightly more than $400,000. The 20-year-old winger has not played a single minute so far this season.
Last season, Ramirez was considered a Young Designated Player. But in 2021, that is no longer the case. Stripping that designation, though, is more a function of the team’s roster flexibility than a stain on his production.
But the fact remains: RSL is shelling out a hefty amount of money for a player who in the last two seasons has struggled to make a game-day roster.
Elsewhere on the roster, goalkeeper David Ochoa’s salary stands out. That’s mainly because his backups are making more than he is.
Ochoa, the current starting goalkeeper, is at $90,000 this year — up from about $74,000 in 2020. Zac MacMath, however, is making $200,000 this season. He earned the starting keeper spot last year before losing it to Andrew Putna, who is making upwards of $150,000 in 2021.
For context, Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan is making $805,000 and is the highest paid at his position.